Anna Gragert
November 11, 2015 1:38 pm

If you find yourself checking Facebook multiple times a day —just know that you’re not alone. Turns out, this social media platform is an even bigger part of our lives than we thought.

Knowing that Facebook has power over its users, Denmark’s Happiness Research Institute wanted to see exactly how powerful this social networking website is. That’s why they recently conducted an experiment involving 1,095 people. 94% of this group said that Facebook has become a part of their daily routine, while 78% stated that they spend more than 30 minutes, daily, on this popular platform. Knowing this information, the HRI research group wanted to find out how the time we spend (or don’t spend) on Facebook affects us.

So, the team took half the participants aside and gave them this assignment: for exactly one week, do not use Facebook. Like, at all. As for the other half, they could continue their Facebook usage per usual.

Once this Facebook detox week was complete, the happiness scientists (which sounds like the coolest job) asked all volunteers to evaluate their lives once again. And what did they find out? “After one week without Facebook, the treatment group reported a significantly higher level of life satisfaction,” stated the researchers. Specifically, before the experiment began, both groups were asked to rate their lives on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the most happy). At this point, the two crowds reported a similar amount of satisfaction.

After the experiment, the “no Facebook” group went from an average of 7.75/10 to 8.12/10. However, the group that kept using Facebook decreased from 7.67 at the week’s beginning to 7.56 at the end of the week.

The Happiness Research Institute also found that frequent Facebook users were more likely to feel angry (20% verses 12%), depressed (33% versus 22%), and worried (54% versus 41%) when compared to those who left Facebook for a week. The organizers believe these differences are related to several factors. First of all, one week without Facebook caused the offline group to spend more time socializing (in person) with others. People taking a break from Facebook were also 18% more likely to feel present in the moment, which helped them with their concentration and with their time management skills.

It’s also important to note that users tend to only show the happy side of their lives online. 61% of participants said that they “prefer to post their good sides” on Facebook. That would explain why 5/10 individuals envy the #amazing experiences their friends showcase on their timelines. “Instead of focusing on what we actually need, we have an unfortunate tendency to focus on what other people have,” researchers concluded, after learning that 39% of people are more likely to feel less happy than their friends.

While Facebook can serve as a great communication tool, there definitely is a downside. Too much of any one thing can be a bad thing – and it seems like Facebook is no exception.

[Image via iStock

[Image via iStock

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